April 15, 2023
Cutting back on single-use plastic has been on the sustainability agenda for years now as we attempt to combat its effects on our environment. But that’s not the only form of this ubiquitous material that has a negative impact on our planet. Toys, credit cards, reusable water bottles, synthetic fabrics – anything made using plastic can contribute to the pollution problem we’re currently facing.
First, it’s important to understand what the real problem is with plastic. It can take anywhere between a century to a millenia (or more) for plastic to fully break down. Rather than biodegrading, it breaks into smaller and smaller pieces over time – also known as microplastics – which then leech into our environment. These microplastics find their way into every nook and cranny of our planet, including our soil, waterways, and the ocean.
In addition to the microplastics that pollute the planet, many of these products also shed carcinogenic substances. These toxic chemicals come from flame retardants and moisture wicking treatments, for example, that are applied to various plastic products to make them more functional. Little is known about how ingesting plastic particles affects living organisms, but the substances that are so often added to plastic have been proven to disrupt endocrine systems, cause oxidative stress, and suppress immune function in both animals and humans.
Many brands that manufacture plastic products have turned to using recycled plastic as a way to combat pollution. However, it’s important to note that plastic can only be recycled once, and recycled plastic is just as likely as its virgin counterpart to shed microplastics and other nanoparticles into the environment.
Where does a clothing brand fit in here? Well, over the last century, synthetic fibers have become more and more popular in clothing manufacturing. And synthetic fibers are made of – you guessed it – plastic. When these fabrics go through a wash cycle, microplastics are shaken loose and drain away into our water system. These particles eventually end up in the ocean and are a detriment to marine life.
Scientists at present estimate that clothing alone is responsible for nearly 35% of the microplastic pollution in our oceans. Switching to exclusively natural fibers for your clothing seems like one good solution to curbing the microplastics problem, but that’s easier said than done.
Athletic apparel especially is dominated by brands using synthetic fibers and hocking moisture-wicking and fast-absorbing qualities as a way to keep you cool during your workout. That being said, moisture-wicking clothing can actually have the reverse impact. Sweat is your body’s way of keeping you cool when you’re working hard. By removing this natural regulator, moisture-wicking fabric causes your body to work even harder to produce more sweat to cool you down. But that’s a topic for another blog… (One that you can read here!)
With the abundance of athletic clothing brands on the market that use primarily, if not exclusively, synthetic fibers, it can be challenging to find a natural alternative that’s still lightweight and comfortable for your workout.
So how about less frequent washing? If synthetic fabrics break down so much in the washer, surely laundering them less often might curb the microplastic mess and reduce water consumption. Unfortunately, this is another “easier said than done” situation. Synthetic fibers are famous for absorbing moisture and quickly evaporating it, but they’re also known for harboring foul odors. When you sweat or spill something on a synthetic garment, the spot may dry quickly, but bacteria is left behind to breed and develop a stinky smell. Even if you could overlook the odor, your gym mates and running buddies might start keeping their distance.
Zenkai creates functional, high-performance athletic-wear made of natural fibers and none of the nasty chemicals. Our clothing is free from the harmful microplastics and nanoparticles present in synthetic athletic apparel and boasts both breathability and biodegradability.
Our proprietary Filium® technology transforms organic material into sturdy, sweat-repellent, and irritant-free fabric. Instead of fighting against your body’s natural sweat response through “wicking” properties, it repels moisture, keeping a thin layer of sweat on your skin to keep you cool while you move. The benefits here are twofold: you don’t overheat, and your clothes remain free of odor-causing bacteria. An added benefit? Less frequent laundering! Zenkai garments are designed to be used several times before needing a wash. And even when you do throw them in the washing machine, they don’t shed the same particles that synthetic fabrics do because they’re made from natural fibers. Win/win.
Founded upon principles of sustainability and eco-consciousness, Zenkai is celebrating this Earth Day with 50% off our whole store. Take advantage of this sale to stock up on planet-friendly performance clothing and help us fight the plastic problem! You’ll automatically receive 50% off your purchase when you make a purchase on April 22nd.
April 20, 2023
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